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TheSPillow (2)
Monday, January 10, 2011

My Top 5 Albums of 2010

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Ladies and djentlemen,

I'd like to present to you my favorite music albums to be released in the year 2010. I've gotta say, nothing extremely groundbreaking this year, but there were a few gems to be found. As usual, all but one of these are metal albums. That's what happens when last.fm recommends you music based on what you already listen to, haha. Anyway, here are the records that I enjoyed the most.

#5 - Mnemic: Sons of the System

Favorite Track - #2: Diesel Uterus

After a fairly 'meh' previous album, Danish modern metal band Mnemic (pronounced 'Nem-ick' by the members themselves) returns with a surprisingly solid fourth record titled 'Sons of the System'. After the departure of their phenomenal vocalist Michael Bogballe after the release of their second album, Mnemic adopted ex-Scarve vocalist Guillaume Bideau. Bideau's performance on their third album 'Passenger' was very satisfying in the clean vocals department, but his 'puke-scream' harsh delivery bothered the absolute shit out of me. After Passenger, I did not have super high hopes for the band's fourth album. Thankfully, Bideau got vocal lessons or radioactive superpowers or something, because his performance on Sons of the System is nearly flawless. This record is a much easier and straightforward listen than the former, and every song carries a killer hook and a catchy chorus. Standout tracks are the oddly named single 'Diesel Uterus', 'Climbing Toward Stars' with a throat-tearing chorus, and 'Hero(in)' with its groovy start-stop riffing and beautiful melodies. My major complaint with this album is the method of compression on the drums which makes the cymbals pump in an extremely unnatural way. In addition, some tracks seem a bit less inspired than others, with the verse jumping into the chorus with no sort of fluid transition. These complaints shouldn't deter one from giving this record a listen, however. Any fan of heavy music should check this one out for sure.


#4 - Coheed and Cambria: Year of the Black Rainbow

Favorite Track - #2: The Broken

Anyone who knows me probably expected this album to immediately jump to #1 on my list. Coheed and Cambria is the group that really got me into music as more than just a method of drowning out teachers' voices in class. Year of the Black Rainbow isn't as personal for me as their last album, as this one is a prequel to the entire Coheed and Cambria story. The story behind this record is more of a love story than an action movie, which is great in and of itself, but after experiencing the epic tale unfold with the previous albums, to step backward in time and flesh out the backstory of two characters who by the next album are *spoilers* dead *spoilers*, seems pointless to me. But really, the quality of an album should be judged based on the music mainly, and musically, I'm very bi-polar about this record. On the good side, nearly every staple of a Coheed record is here. Legendarily powerful opening track? Got it. Badass, pulse-pounding rock track? Got it. Tear-jerking ballad? Absolutely (for real, don't call me a puss till you listen to the album). With all this, however, comes a bit of a shift in production style which, while pristine and sonically flawless, places focus on creating textures based on the subtle interplay between the two guitarists and takes focus off of the monster riffs and genius playing style of guitarists Sanchez and Stever. The skill is there, but it's not at the forefront where, in my opinion, it should be. Instead the listener is treated to a catchy and accessible swirling of sounds, which is by no means unpleasant, but it's not Coheed and Cambria. The bottom line is, to the die-hard Coheed fan, this record is solid, but not up to par with their previous work. To any other listener, this is a fantastic and extremely enjoyable listen, and my nerd rage should not defer you from what could likely be your new favorite record.


#3 - Keep of Kalessin: Reptilian

Favorite Track - #7: The Divine Land

Here's one that snuck up on me! Keep of Kalessin is a Norwegian band who is classified as black metal, but is, in my opinion, much more polished and melodically focused than the standard black metal band. I cannot comment on their earlier work, as this is the first and only album I have from them, but this album is chock full of tight guitar riffs that would make any rock guitar nerd wee themselves (myself included...brb, changing). The album has eight tracks, all of which are longer than most songs, and all of which are about dragons. Fuck yeah. The guitarist (only one) and the drummer are the main focus here. The drums are, by any black metal band's standards, a brisk workout, but by any normal artist's standards, batshit insane. In the second-to-last track (which in my opinion should be the final track), drummer Vyl blastbeats for nearly seven minutes straight under a massive and beautiful wall of guitar work and choir vocals. I'm listening to it right now and I'm losing my breath just thinking about it. Don't let the single, which is strangely the worst and most lackluster song on the album, fool you. As the title and theme indicates, this is one monster of an album.


#2 - Dagoba: Poseidon

Favorite Track - #7: Black Smokers (752 Fahrenheit)

I became completely enamored with this band after their song "The Fall of Men" came up in my last.fm station and I heard the singer's mandate "BE FUCKED OR BE ROASTED!". This four-piece groove metal group hails from the port town of Marseilles, France and is often referred to as "the only good thing to come out of France" by esteemed Youtube user critics. It's hard for me to point out a choice few songs from this band's catalog as my favorites, as I am really just drawn to their overall style. Headbangability is paramount with this album, and it does not disappoint in that respect. This record is, from start to finish, a neck-breaker. It is extremely battery-focused, as they have one of the best drummers around behind the kit. This is the reason, I think, that this album has the clickiest kick drum I've ever heard. Most people will find it obnoxiously clicky, myself included, but it's not too difficult to get used to, and it really is the driving force behind the album, anyway. The theme of this album is of life at sea, pirates, storms, and...I dunno...probably sea monsters and barnacles. Standout tracks include the phenomenal opener Dead Lion Reef; Devil's Triangle, which is a crushing song about having a devil's threesome (can anyone relate to this?); the mid-album instrumental The Horn Cape, which consists almost entirely of the same note (B); and the killer single Black Smokers. If you are a metalhead and want a reason to swing your flowing locks from side to side, this is the record for you.

#1 - Eluveitie: Everything Remains as it Never Was

Favorite Track - #2: Everything Remains as it Never Was

I bet the first thing you're saying, if you're not already familiar with the band, is "how the bloody hell do you pronounce that name? That's the first thing I thought, at least. It's pronounced 'El-vay-tee-uh', and it's Gaulish for 'I am Helvetian', which more or less refers to someone who is from Switzerland. Are you sitting down for this next factoid? Get ready...the band is from....Switzerland. Now you're wondering what the purpose of all this historical crap is. It's relevant to the music, as Eluveitie is a folk metal band, whose music and lyrics are thematically based on ancient Gaulish folk stories and music. A sane person would hear the phrase 'folk metal' and think that it sounds stupid, and that's because most folk metal is very, very stupid. :P But Eluveitie is an exception. Whereas most folk metal bands just play heavy metal drinking songs, Eluveitie plays modern melodic metal while skillfully weaving in melodies played on a variety of folk instruments, such as flutes, tin whistles, bagpipes, fiddle, and the unfortunately named hurdy-gurdy (it's legit). This record consists of 13 of some of the best metal songs you'll ever hear, with the added uniqueness of swirling textures provided by various folk instruments and melodies, which evoke a certain ancient, tribal emotion. Of special note is the band's drummer (who for added awesomeness possesses the birth name 'Merlin'), who is probably one of the most talented and tasteful drummers I know of. He is able to weave between thrashy metal passages and bounding folk phrases with a precision and keen sense of groove that is unrivaled by most individuals today. This entire record is a journey that is undeniably formulaic on paper, yet it is never, ever gimmicky...and while it can even be said that it is unoriginal, as it borrows from so many pioneers which came before; at its core, this record is a dynamic, one of a kind experience, whose execution is unique, fresh, and absolutely deserving of respect.

Thanks for reading! If you have actually read it, that is... I'm always open to suggestions. What was your favorite this year?


11:39 am - 2 comments - 2 Kudos - Report!
TheSPillow wrote on Feb 8th, 2011 4:19am

Awesome blog, though I'd disagree with the Coheed album. Didn't really appeal to me.

My favorites this year were probably:
Kylesa - Spiral Shadow
Dark Tranquillity - We Are The Void
Bassnectar - Timestretch EP

And maaaaybe Iron Maiden's new album, even though I've really stopped liking them a lot.


Spoony_Barda wrote on Feb 8th, 2011 2:58pm

Oh man, it's a killer album (Coheed). Dark Tranquillity was awesome too, it would probably be #6 for me.


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